News / Africa

Hunger Expected to Continue in Niger Despite Good Rains

A Nigerien vendor, left, measures out millet, which has doubled in price in the local market, for a client in the village of Tamou, 60 kilometers outside Niamey, Niger, (File)
A Nigerien vendor, left, measures out millet, which has doubled in price in the local market, for a client in the village of Tamou, 60 kilometers outside Niamey, Niger, (File)

Strong rains are boosting hopes for a good harvest in Niger, where nearly half the  people do not have enough to eat. So why are relief officials already predicting that the food crisis will continue into next year?

The strength of the international community's response to this year's food crisis in Niger helped feed more than 220,000 children under the age of five. At an in-patient therapeutic feeding center in the central Zinder region, cases of acute malnutrition have dropped from nearly 400 two months ago to less than 250 today.

But the need is still great. While more than 85 percent of children recover fully, the death rate is still nearly 8 percent. Other mothers leave the program before the treatment is complete. With seven full-time doctors and 41 nurses, the center has helped save the lives of children from the Zinder commune as well as the surrounding areas of Mirriah and Magaria.

"Things are improving slightly, but it is still extremely sobering," said Valerie Amos, the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator and Undersecretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs. "This is a country where the development indicators are all very poor. Where you have population growth on a very large scale. I saw one woman today who had nine children. Four of them had died. There is huge amount of public education and awareness raising that needs to be done. It is a terrible thing to see children in that kind of situation."



Though acute malnutrition is on the decline, hunger in Niger is always a cycle. Even the best harvest will not last most families beyond February.

Despite good rains, many millet farmers are already deep in debt from last year's failed crops, so they will have less for themselves after paying off their loans.

In the village of Toumour, less than 60 kilometers from Chad, pastoralists who moved their cattle across the border lost nearly one-third of their herd to disease. Those who stayed behind lost as much as half their cattle. The U.N. says some isolated nomadic herders in northern enclaves lost everything.

While the U.N. Development Program has helped give pastoralists access to credit to rebuild their herds, Amos says more cattle and better rains alone can not solve Niger's structural malnutrition.

"It speaks to the structural issue," she noted. "You have very poor education indicators. You have a country that is quite complicated in the sense that you have people who are pastoralists. Some are nomadic. Some stay put. The country is vast with a small population. The infrastructure is poor. Agricultural development is not taking place at the kind of rate that it should. And it is also suffering the impact of climate change."

Relief officials say the response to this year's food crisis improved greatly after February's coup because military leaders were far more realistic about the challenges than the deposed government of Mamadou Tandja. As the country moves toward a new civilian government, Amos says what happens next is critical to Niger's long-term success.

"I hope that government will really look around and see what is happening to the people of Niger and put long-term, sustainable development at the top of its agenda," Amos said.

Voters in Niger decide whether to accept a new constitution later this month. If approved, it would lead to presidential elections in January, just as relief officials believe the next wave of hunger will begin.

You May Like

Conflicts Engulf Christians in Mideast

Research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities, and Christians are facing persecution in a growing number of countries in the region More

Chinese Americans: Don’t Call Us 'Model Minority'

Label points to collective achievement, but some say it triggers resentment, unrealistic expectations More

Iran Bolsters Phone, Internet Surveillance

Does increased monitoring suggest the government is nervous? More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Polish Ghetto

When the Nazi army moved into the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid